How many times do you find yourself reading a novel set in the US, and a character announces, “Oh, how you vex me!” I’m going to guess the answer is…never. But find yourself reading say, an Inspector Lynley (by American Elizabeth George, who writes British mysteries like no other) and you’re likely to hear that kind of phrase sprinkled liberally throughout.  Or you might hear it in a Sherlock Holmes story (a vexing conundrum!)  Or perhaps you’re reading Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, and come across this, “Go, girl, I cannot blame thee now to weep, For such an injury would vex a very saint; Much more a shrew of thy impatient humour.”  Not familiar with vex? It’s a transitive verb, meaning to bring trouble, distress, or agitation. Also, to puzzle or baffle. I wish I could say it with a straight face, in a real situation. But if I said something like, “That department manager really vexed me!” I think I’d get some odd looks. What about you? Have you found occasion to consider yourself vexed? I dare you to say it and report back.

4 thoughts on “Vex

  1. I knew a fellow who, as a teen ,was charged (in Washington state) with intent to vex and annoy. I have a granson just like that!

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